Coping with itching and inflammation: my experience

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logoslives
logoslives Member Posts: 2
edited June 2020 in Anal Cancer #1

Hello, everyone, 

I was treated for stage 1 squamous cell carcinoma almost three years ago. Surgery, radiation, chemo. It has been a long road to recovery but I am most of the way there. I wanted to post about itching and inflammation because I have made some progress on that front. I have experienced gradual physical recovery, month by month, but also have found some things that helped. I found these on my own. 

I am not a doctor, but frankly my doctor though he seemed very good at treatment sucked pretty bad at after care. 

1. Keeping it clean with water. I can say that washing my butt out with hot water seems to help a lot. I take a dump and then immediately go in the shower and wash out very, very thoroughly with hot water from a hose or showerhead. I used 45 degrees centigrade or as hot as I could stand. Note that such hot water can actually burn you if you go on too long, so you have to be careful, but for some reason it really helped reduce pain, itching, and inflammation more than warm or cold water. Part of using water is that it complete avoids rubbing with toilet paper. Toilet paper made everything bad. I only know about this because at work I had no hose, so I had to use at least some paper. I actually told my boss that sometimes I would have to leave, and after using the toilet at work I would go home and rinse off thoroughly. 

I should note that you don't want to use too high a water pressure. It feels good temporarily but causes tissue damage. So I use high pressure because it cleans better, but not so high that it causes too much bleeding. That said there was always a lot of blood for the first two years after treatment, so it was hard for a long time to tell how much blood was from defecation and how much was from too high water pressure. I did use too high water pressure for a long time because it gave temporary relief but stopped after advice from my doctor that it was a bad idea.

I'm going to be blunt here and say that if you use a shower head to clean out your butt, little pieces of feces can get on it. So if you share the shower with anyone else, it's very important to clean that shower stall and shower head very thoroughly. Frankly, defecation was very painful for months after radiation, and I was in no mood to look over a shower head and clean it right after showering, three or four or five times a day. But I should have because my partner eventually told me it was gross and was pretty angry. My bad, but I didn't realize it (also the light in the shower was dim, so it was easy to overlook.)

2. I tried various creams and oils and for me, there were some that made it worse, some that didn't help, and some that helped quite a bit. One that did NOT work for me was zinc oxide. Zinc oxide made it worse. Vaseline helped for a while, and then seemed to make it slightly worse. However, I kept a big jar of vaseline at work in case I just had to take a dump there. It made the use of toilet paper tolerable. I also took it on the plane. They try to tell you a big jar is too big, but once you start telling them about anal cancer and the pain of it they shut up quick and wave you through. In case that doesn't work, I would bring a letter from your doctor, which is good to have anyway. 

I tried various natural this and that from the health food store but none of it helped and a lot of it made the itch slightly worse. I tried aloe vera and it did not help. Actual pure aloe vera was a bit better but is a mild carcinogen as I discovered so I stopped using it. It didn't really help anyway. 

3. The oils that helped are coconut oil or MCT oil. I actually think MCT oil is a bit better. I just apply it lightly after defecating or when the itch starts. 

4. This brings me to my latest discovery, which seems to help more than anything else: it's "Voltaren," a topical pain relieving gel. This stuff is new and is as far as I know the only topical pain reliever that actually does work. Now, I put it on for itching and burning, NOT for "pain." And I don't know if you are "supposed" to use it that way, on (not in) your butt (the tumor was outside between the rectum and the testes, not inside). But so far, Voltaren works better than anything else I have tried. (I'm not saying it does not help "pain." But at this point I don't have pain, just itching and burning. It might work for pain.)

5. Sometimes I would wake up in the middle of the night with a horrible itch. I felt an almost irresistible urge to itch. But itching always made the burning worse. In that case now I keep a container of MCT oil on the nightstand and apply it. My willpower is weaker at 4am than any other time, so it is hard to resist itching, but that helps. However, since I started applying Voltaren I have not had this problem. 

That's about it, folks. The itch is still there. But since Voltaren it is way down. And even before that it had been going down steadily. I will try to update this later as things go on. 

To my fellow posters: This board was really tremendously helpful to me when I was diagnosed and then after treatment. I know sometimes it may feel like you are talking into a void, but please believe me when I say that your posts were a great help to my spirit. Thank you so much. I will post more about different things later, but this seemed like the most practical thing to help my fellow cancer patients at this time. 

All the best and keep your spirits up. 

 

 

Comments

  • Nutmeg1
    Nutmeg1 Member Posts: 21 Member
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    Itching and Inflamation

    The best relief I found was taking a warm salt bath. Yes, in the middle of the night the itching and stinging did become unbearable. I would get up and have a VERY salted bath. The sting from the salt was as good as scratching and the itching soon subsided as did the stinging.

    Having a salt bath after every bm helped to not only clean but soothe the itching. At times of course, a rush of left-over bm would discharge itself without my having any control, but I would refresh the salt bath and sit until the irritation left. 

    There were times at the height of my treatment, where I would have at least seven salt baths a day. There was no other way to retain my sanity while my butt was screaming in torment!

    Needless to say, I recommend doing whatever gives you relief. I had been admitted into hospital as I had became seriously dehydrated from excessive diarrhea. The diarrhea had caused such burning and irritation that I needed help. I am very grateful for all the help I received. There was a point too, that I used plain ice to numb the pain while I waited for the nurse to get the salt and the bath for me. 

    Earlier in my treatment, I also had used hemmoroid cream to numb the pain, but the best relief was found after a treatment nurse gave me some Lignocane 2% Gel to use. This was amazing; the numbing of my anus was such a reprieve from the agony of itching, throbbing and the burning caused from the cancer treatment. 

    As I have said, whatever helps try anything that helps. After a bath and careful patting to dry myself, I used a baby nappy rash cream that soothed and moisturised my poor fanny  :/

    I pray that you keep sane and know that this humbling disease's treatment remedy, will pass. It has been just over three years since treatment and I have started to feel mentally sane for most days now :) 

     

  • Brendaklein
    Brendaklein Member Posts: 123 Member
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    Nutmeg1 said:

    Itching and Inflamation

    The best relief I found was taking a warm salt bath. Yes, in the middle of the night the itching and stinging did become unbearable. I would get up and have a VERY salted bath. The sting from the salt was as good as scratching and the itching soon subsided as did the stinging.

    Having a salt bath after every bm helped to not only clean but soothe the itching. At times of course, a rush of left-over bm would discharge itself without my having any control, but I would refresh the salt bath and sit until the irritation left. 

    There were times at the height of my treatment, where I would have at least seven salt baths a day. There was no other way to retain my sanity while my butt was screaming in torment!

    Needless to say, I recommend doing whatever gives you relief. I had been admitted into hospital as I had became seriously dehydrated from excessive diarrhea. The diarrhea had caused such burning and irritation that I needed help. I am very grateful for all the help I received. There was a point too, that I used plain ice to numb the pain while I waited for the nurse to get the salt and the bath for me. 

    Earlier in my treatment, I also had used hemmoroid cream to numb the pain, but the best relief was found after a treatment nurse gave me some Lignocane 2% Gel to use. This was amazing; the numbing of my anus was such a reprieve from the agony of itching, throbbing and the burning caused from the cancer treatment. 

    As I have said, whatever helps try anything that helps. After a bath and careful patting to dry myself, I used a baby nappy rash cream that soothed and moisturised my poor fanny  :/

    I pray that you keep sane and know that this humbling disease's treatment remedy, will pass. It has been just over three years since treatment and I have started to feel mentally sane for most days now :) 

     

    Thank you

    I'm just 2 years out as of Aug. I still have problems sometimes with hard bm's and bleeding from incision. I still do the sitz bath, Aquaphor and lidocream the Dr. gave me. I'm so glad to find someone else who is going through the same thing I do. Thank you for sharing. I go for my 3rd CT scan in Nov. always makes me nervous. Then I see my 3 Dr.'s after. More blood test fron Onc. I was also stage 1. Please keep in touch.   Brenda Klein